Skip to comments.Scriptural Basis of the Mass as Sacrifice (Where is that in the Bible?)
Posted on 09/26/2006 4:48:31 PM PDT by NYer
ROME, SEPT. 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: Where are we commanded to have a sacrifice in our formal worship of God? Protestants, for the most part, worship with singing, some collective prayers and long sermons. Where in the Bible does it say that proper worship contains a sacrifice? Also a review of where in the Bible the Mass parts come from and why we include them in Mass would be useful. Again, it will come down to convincing a "sola scriptura" believer that Scripture says we must do it. Any help would be appreciated. -- J.C., Leavenworth, Kansas
A: A full answer to this question exceeds the possibilities of this column. There are, however, many worthy resources available online. Web sites such as Catholic Answers contain, among other elements, Father Mitch Pacwa's "Is the Mass a Sacrifice?"
The Old Testament contains many divine commands to perform sacrifices. All of the complex liturgical rituals described in Leviticus, for example, are ostensibly commanded by God through Moses.
Perhaps the most important sacrifices commanded by God in the Old Testament were those in which the Almighty sealed a covenant. This includes the one with Noah after the flood, the pact made with Abraham, and above all the sacrifice of the paschal lamb in Egypt, a covenant that was completed 50 days later with another sacrifice at Sinai.
It was this covenant that was renewed each year at the Passover by means of a sacrificial ritual that was a "memorial" ("zikkaron" in Hebrew). It was not a mere recalling but rather one that ritually made present and ratified and renewed the saving events that had occurred so many years before.
For Catholics, the central divine command to worship, using a sacrifice, came from the lips of Christ when he told the apostles at the Last Supper, "Do this as in memory of me."
In doing so, he specifically recalled the Jewish Passover as a memorial and applied it to himself and his upcoming sacrifice on the cross, with a totally new and definitive meaning.
In this context Our Lord's words "This is my body, which is given for you" (Luke 22:19) correspond to those of Exodus 12:27: "[This ritual] is the sacrifice of the Passover in honor of Yahweh" when he freed Israel from slavery in Egypt.
The words "For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28) echo those of Exodus 24:8 when Moses says: "This is the blood of the covenant that Yahweh has made with you."
We are thus before a unique sacrifice, the memorial sacrament of Christ's paschal sacrifice. Through it he has brought salvation to all mankind and sealed a new and eternal covenant in his blood.
Although the apostles probably did not immediately grasp the full meaning of Christ's gesture in the cenacle, their reflection on his words and actions and their familiarity with the Passover as a memorial quickly led them to understand that Our Lord had commanded them to repeat the ritual that he had established.
They understood that this ritual was the definitive paschal sacrifice which made present Christ's unique sacrifice on Calvary and in doing so ratified and renewed the new and eternal covenant.
Therefore, God has commanded us to worship with a sacrifice, his own unique sacrifice.
All other forms of ritual sacrifice have fallen by the wayside as Christ's sacrifice has an infinite worth that absorbs all the values and intentions expressed in the ancient sacrifices.
The Mass is a sacrifice insofar as it is the memorial that ritually renews and makes present to us, in time, Christ's once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross.
The personal prayers and sacrifices of Christians reach their fulfillment when they are united to Christ's sacrifice through full, devout and active participation at Mass.
As to where in the Bible the various parts of the Mass are found, the answer is less clear. In a way it is everywhere and nowhere.
Everywhere, because the entire Mass is animated by Scripture. Almost all of the prayers and texts have a scriptural background and the entire rite is developed as a fruit of Christ's command to continue his actions.
Nowhere, in the sense that we will not find explicit commands to say, "Sing the Sanctus after the preface." Rather, the ritual has developed over time as a response to the scriptural exhortation to pray, to repeat the sacrifice, etc.
In this case even a Protestant would have to accept that the details of his worship (songs, psalms and long sermons, etc.) are found in the Bible only in very general terms.
I quietly slipped into the basement chapel down at Marquette, Gesu. They were having a noon Mass and I had never gone to Mass before. I slipped in. I sat down in the back pew. I didn't kneel. I didn't genuflect, I wouldn't stand. I was an observer; I was there to watch. But I was surprised when 40, 50, 60, 80, or 100 ordinary folk just walked in off the street for midday Mass, ordinary folk who just came in, genuflected, knelt and prayed. Then a bell rang and they all stood up and Mass began. I had never seen it before.From the Scott Hahn conversion story
The Liturgy of the Word was so rich, not only the Scripture readings. They read more Scripture, I thought, in a weekday Mass than we read in a Sunday service. But their prayers were soaked with Biblical language and phrases from Isaiah and Ezekiel. I sat there saying, "Man, stop the show, let me explain your prayers. That's Zechariah; that's Ezekiel. Wow! It's like the Bible coming to life and dancing out on the center stage and saying, "This is where I belong."
Then the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. I watched and listened as the priest pronounced the words of consecration and elevated the host. And I confess, the last drop of doubt drained away at that moment. I looked and said, "My Lord and my God." As the people began going forward to receive communion, I literally began to drool, "Lord, I want you. I want communion more fully with you. You've come into my heart. You're my personal Savior and Lord, but now I think You want to come onto my tongue and into my stomach, and into my body as well as my soul until this communion is complete."
And as soon as it began, it was over. People stuck around for a minute or two for thanksgiving and then left. And eventually, I just walked out and wondered, what have I done? But the next day I was back, and the next, and the next...
The bread and wine used by Jesus did not turn into His body and blood .. it remained bread and wine.
oh ye of little faith! How are you with the whole resurrection thing? Is that foolish too?
That was an interesting non-answer - contradicts himself in one sentence.
Is there no difference between time and eternity? Then the phrase "begotten, not made" has no meaning for you either, and we are left with the doctrine of Arius.
Explain something then...
1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Since the 'risen' Jesus has no blood, what is it that you are turning your wine into???
I need faith to believe in something extra scriptural?
Jesus raised Himself, of course ... and on the evening of the passover .. the bread and wine remained bread and wine ... He said to do this in remembrance of His death ...where is Christmas then?
I'll see your out of context and raise an oblique.
43"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. 44"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.'[d] Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
You mean you think that the Risen Jesus is not truly man?
Well, in my church we regularly say after the elevation , whether approriate to the moment or not: Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again. The purpose of the corpus on the cross is to remind us of the humanity of Christ, that he suffered as a man. Crucifixes were made popular by St. Francis, a very spiritual saint who even Protestants respect for his evangelical character. They may be offended by the baroque style, which emphasizes the torture of the cross, although, paradoxically, they found Mel Gilbson's very baroque movie quite congenial. At bottom, the crucifix is only an artform.
We Biblical Catholic Christians disagree.
As a Protestant, I know that the crucifixion comes before redemption and the Resurrection. I wear my crucifix only on Good Friday. The empty cross is how I celebrate the rest of the year. I don't think that He will hold it against either a sincere crucifix or empty cross wearer for their choice.
For me, the most intense part of Easter begins on Thursday, a time to remember His very human struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane and His ultimate obedience, despite not only the physical pain He would have to endure but also the horrible burden of our sins on His pure soul. Then comes Friday, the day we recognize as His crucifixion day, a time of great sorrow, along with our present day hindsight in knowing that jubilation was just around the corner; Saturday is a day of anticipation and wondering how those in Paradise felt when they saw Him, after waiting for Him so long. Then comes the fulfillment of Jesus' promise of Resurrection and His victory over spiritual death for all who believe. And that wasn't even the finale--nearly two months afterwards, Jesus' other promise was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers gathered for Shavuot.
To me, the celebration for Easter really starts on Christmas; after all, without His unique birth, the rest would not have happened. : )
I think we (I admit I'm guilty) sometimes get too bogged down in the differences, instead of celebrating our blessed bond through Jesus.
"I am earnestly waiting for a Roman Catholic to correct the poster who sarcastically referred to " that resurrection thing". Perhaps it could be you."
Why would a Catholic need to correct the poster who wrote that? Was it not a perfectly logical rejoinder? Yes, actually it was. The fact that it was sarcastic is unimportant since he was merely showing that the Protestant poster was sarcastic. After all, Christ said "body" and "blood". He didn't say "bread" and "wine" after they became His body and blood. So who was really be sarcastic here?
We don't deny the Resurrection, but you demand we apologize for sarcastically drawing someone's attention to it. You have a Protestant who denied a Christ founded sacrament, a miracle, a great gift where the Savior gives us His flesh and blood under the appearance of bread and wine and you're whining about what a Catholic said even though it in no way denied the Resurrection?
Protestants deny the Eucharist for the same reason they don't like the crucifix: they struggle with the Incarnation. Deep down many Protestants are little better than Docetians.